As the UK’s non-essential retailers open their doors to customers this week, several retailers have been promoting how they are still wedded to stores, but that they are doing physical retail very differently to before.
Cementing the growing tie up between fashion and homeware brands that has happened during the lockdown, Next and Homebase have teamed up to extend Homebase’s small format store roll out to include selling selected gardening products in Next stores.
Six Homebase garden centres will open in Next stores in Shoreham, Ipswich, Warrington, Camberley, Bristol and Sheffield this week, coinciding with non-essential shops reopening.
As well as expert gardening advice available from Homebase team members in-store, customers can take advantage of personalised hints and tips via plant care app, SmartPlant. With Homebase’s entire range of plants added to the app, extra help is available just by scanning the barcode.
Damian McGloughlin, CEO Homebase, explains: "We’re delighted to be joining forces with Next and bringing our garden products and expertise to its stores. It’s all part of our wider commitment to make shopping with us easier and provide even more inspiration and expert advice. We’re a great nation of gardeners, with more and more people enjoying the benefits of gardening and being outside. The launch of these new garden centres means we’re able to offer more gardeners, both experienced and those just starting out, Homebase products in more locations across the country."
In a show of its belief in the British high street’s future, Homebase is also set to open more of its small-format stores this week. A dual-branded Kitchens by Homebase and Bathstore, DECORATE by Homebase, and its first small-format Homebase store with all the everyday essentials will open right on the high street in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. The openings will bring the total number of Homebase’s small-format stores to six across Guildford, Cheadle and Sutton.
British brand Monsoon used the 12 April store reopening day to unveil its new boutique store concept, located in the heart of London on Marylebone High Street. The store is a new location for Monsoon and , it says, brings a fresh new store experience to its customers as part of the reopening of retail in England.
The store is part of a refresh of Monsoon, taking the brand back to its roots, celebrating its heritage, craft and commitment to sustainability and ethical trade. The Marylebone High Street location is the first in a series of new boutiques for Monsoon, with over 30 planned in key locations across the UK and Ireland.
The architecture and colour palette of the store take inspiration from Monsoon’s heritage designs and long relationship with India. Installations in the store tell the stories of the brand’s product creation and craft, showcasing artisan wood-blocking and weaving techniques, with bursts of colour that represent the bold tones used by the brand since its foundation.
The new boutique store features a curated collection of Monsoon’s women’s product, childrenswear and highlights from its homeware collection. The store will showcase the brand’s new artisan collection, Artisan Studio, made from 100% organic cotton, sustainable Lenzing Ecovero and sustainable viscose georgette.
In addition, other pieces from across Monsoon’s range are featured that are new to stores and showcase the brand’s commitment to sustainability, highlighting its progress on a journey to over 70% sustainable fabrications over the next two years.
The store will also feature a guest capsule from women’s brand EAST, which is designed from sustainable base clothes and uses upcycled quilts and offcuts from un-used fabrications, highlighting the brand’s considerate approach to product creation and to building a better future in fashion.
While the store is designed as a showcase for the Monsoon brand and product, it will also highlight and support the brand’s charitable work through The Monsoon Accessorize Trust. On opening, 10% of the first month’s profits will be donated to the Trust, which supports and empowers individuals from disadvantaged communities across Asia and helps drive sustainable change through a range of education, healthcare and income-generation projects.
Many of the projects are linked to artisans who bring extraordinary craft to the brand’s product; giving back to them and their communities is a very tangible aspect of Monsoon’s commitment to ethical trade. As a founding member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), Monsoon is proud to be at the forefront of driving sustainable improvements in working conditions and livelihoods for its suppliers in India and around the world.
Peter Simon, Monsoon’s founder explains: “We are tremendously excited to open our first new boutique store concept. This has been a difficult year for everyone, but difficult times can inspire creativity, and that has certainly been true for us: this store is a bold new expression of Monsoon, taking us back to our roots and celebrating the joy and colour that is so rich in our heritage. This project has been a bright light for us over the past year and represents all the energy and passion that we put into our product and shows the direction for the brand. We are committed to retail, the experience and joy it can bring, and are really excited to see stores reopen, to welcome our customers back and to introduce them to our new boutique.”